I hope we can give Scotland's NHS staff a better pay deal than England's – Sturgeon

Unions urge Scottish Government to reach speedy agreement on pay offer, as first minister announces interim increase

Unions urge Scottish Government to reach speedy agreement on pay offer, as first minister announces interim increase

Nicola Sturgeon
First minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses Scottish National Party conference on 9 June.
Picture: Getty

Nurses' unions are urging the Scottish Government to agree an NHS pay offer so they can put it to members as soon as possible.

Their call comes after first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an interim pay offer that would mean Scotland’s 147,000 Agenda for Change employees would receive an immediate pay rise in recognition of progress made in negotiations. Those earning up to £80,000 will receive a 3% uplift while those earning above this amount will get a flat increase of £1,600. 

This is in addition to any offer eventually negotiated between unions, the NHS and government.

Members of health unions in England voted in favour of a three-year NHS pay deal worth 6.5% last week. 

Scottish/English pay comparisons

According to Scottish Government figures, compared to equivalent posts in NHS England:

  • Healthcare assistants at the top of band 3 will be more than £600 better off
  • Band 4 nursing staff with a year’s experience would be more than £800 better off
  • Nurses with five years’ experience on band 5 will be more than £400 better off
  • Advanced nurse practitioners in the middle of band 7 will be more than £250 better off

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the interim rise during a speech to the Scottish National Party conference in Aberdeen on 9 June.

Staff who are paid monthly will have the extra added to their salaries at the end of July. Those who are paid weekly will get the new increase in the week beginning 2 July.

Those not at the top of their pay bands will also receive any incremental progression due. Increases will be backdated to 1 April 2018.

Theresa Fyffe, Director, RCN Scotland said: 'The years of restraint have had a significant impact on our members in the NHS. While we acknowledge the Scottish Government’s decision to pay a 3% increase in July our focus remains on concluding an agreement that provides members in Scotland with certainty and stability over the next three years.'

Three-year pay deal

While unions have welcomed what they call a goodwill gesture, they are keen to conclude negotiations aimed at agreeing the terms and conditions of a three-year NHS Scotland pay deal.

Unison Scotland’s head of health Matt McLaughlin said: ‘Politicians are quick to praise the hard work and dedication of our members, so it’s good to see this finally being reflected in their pay packets.

‘However, there is still a long way to go and we are in detailed discussions on an NHS Scotland pay deal, which we will be balloting our members on when we receive a formal offer.’

Negotiations between the unions and Scottish Government have continued since April. The Scottish Government announced it was scrapping the 1% cap on public sector pay rises in September 2017.

Hopeful for a positive conclusion

Ms Sturgeon told her party’s conference: ‘We know that for NHS staff the last few years of pay restraint have been tough.’

She added she aimed to ‘not just match but exceed the deal agreed in England’ and concluded: ‘I hope these talks reach a positive conclusion soon.’

In Wales pay negotiations are under way. However, in Northern Ireland, the absence of devolved government means any increase for nurses will be delayed.

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